Women play an undeniably crucial role in our elections, and it is becoming more and more clear that women will decide the 2020 presidential election. Unfortunately, the issues central to women’s economic security, safety, and health have been largely ignored or absent from the Democratic presidential debates.
According to an analysis from TIME’S UP, the national movement to end and address sexual harassment, during the first three Democratic debates, which spanned 7 days and 12 hours, there have been:
zero questions about sexual harassment,
zero questions about child care,
zero questions about paid family and medical leave, and
only three questions about the gender-based pay gap
This disappointing statistic uncovers the subliminal, and at times explicit, dismissal of “women’s issues,” and the absence of discussion on these issues fails to recognize the important impact that issues affecting women have on our families, our communities, and our state as a whole.
While several important topics have been brought to the spotlight during these debates, it is critical that the issues disproportionately affecting women, such as paid family and medical leave, child care, and reproductive health care, get the attention and substantive discussion they deserve during these debates. Ahead of last week’s fourth Democratic presidential debate, which took place in Westerville, Ohio, we worked with partners to change the narrative, aiming to put women’s issues at the forefront of the debate.
That’s why te Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network joined alongside more than 80 national and state organizations to proudly sign onto an open letter to presidential candidates and consultants, debate moderators, political commentators, and the media calling on them to put the issues that impact women, 53 percent of the country’s voters, front and center in the debate.
Unfortunately, these calls for substantive debate on the issues central to women were, once again, largely left unanswered, with one exception. For the first time in months, the debate moderators asked questions to the Democratic presidential candidates about where they stood on issues related to reproductive rights and abortion access. and it would not have been possible without the groundswell of activity from reproductive rights and women’s rights advocates and organizations – including our partners at NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, calling on debate moderators to #AskAboutAbortion.
You can watch the full clip of the #AskAboutAbortion debate video here (shout out to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio for producing and sharing this video!). This is the kind of robust conversation from the candidates that voters, particularly women, want and deserve on all issues core to women’s lives.
Young girls and women are looking upon our nation’s leaders to call attention to issues of women’s economic security, equality, health, dignity, and success. It’s about time our leaders answer their call.